Sunday, August 25, 2013

VGR Space Race

It's time to have another look back at yet another Looney Tunes game!

This one was kind of forgotten but it was one of the best received ones at the time back then.

VGR: Looney Tunes: Space Race also known as simply Space Race
From Infogrames Melbourne
Played on Dreamcast
Also available on PS2

Type Racing
Year 2000

The end of the 1990s saw a decline in mascot-sporting videogames. While Sonic & Crash Bandicoot lived through to see a relatively fine on-going success in gaming, all the other Bubsies, Mr. Nutzes and other cartoon animals quickly disappeared, nowhere to be seen.

But what about the original toons, the Looney Tunes?

Their strike of videogames continued steady, slower and less frequent but they were able to continue, gathering a general decent amount of successes.

They had a few nice truly inspired original games and some... less stellar results.

The Looney Tunes: Space Race was originally slated for the Nintendo 64 back in 1998.

Part of me believe it was originally planned as the tie-in game for the eventual sequel of Space Jam that never was. As I originally discussed in that review and Back in Action's, "Space Jam 2" was at some point titled Race Jam and would have featured a racing tournament taking place in the toons' world.

With some investigation, every thing seems to point out this to be what that movie could have been.

This game was developed by Infogrames, and after some undisclosed retooling the game was finally released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000.

Space Race is a kart racing game of sorts.

Far from being a Mario Kart clone back when this genre was more usual, it's actually closer to the feel and tone of Crash Team Racing all things considered.

The "story" is presented by Foghorn Leghorn who is reporting the event on live TV.

Apparently Marvin the Martian has declared war on the toons and challenged them to an intergalactic race taking place from the moons of Mars to the rings of Saturn!

Following the race is live reporter Lola Bunny who not only gets a cameo in this pseudo-Space Jam 2 (if you followed my above train of thought) but assured with this game she actually never truly disappeared after that movie. (She would come back in one form or another in the following Baby Looney Tunes and Lunatics cartoons, the film Tweety's High-Flying Adventure before finally being reimagined for The Looney Tunes Show)

A handful of highly popular toons entered the race. As such you can select to play with any of the characters between Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester The Cat, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam.

There's around 12 original tracks, usually 2 on the same location but in a different spot, on several landmarks going space-canyons,, space-highways, space-local tourist trap, etc.

The first thing you notice and can say about this game is that it really truly captured the Looney Tunes look right down to the character's animations.

The game is simply gorgeous to look at.

The graphics use a lovely cell shaded design not only fitting but well detailed enough to make the character seem to have been taken out of the animated shorts onto this game.

It not only makes the visuals stand the test of time for this 2000 release but also look more 2D than 3D from that time.

The backgrounds despite the whole "Space" theme going on are all inspired and taken straight from those shorts. You can recognize a lot of background elements from classic Looney Tunes shorts. There's a lot of animated elements such as Instant Martians running amok and whatnot!

Despite it's short cast, there's also a lot of cameos in the game from Tweety opening the races to Pepé Le Pew and Taz here and there.

The gameplay is basically weapon-oriented.

There's a lot of ACMÉ items you can grab around.

Such as the ACME crates containing random objects going from a portable hole, spring-loaded boxing gloves, falling elephants and anvils and many more!

This is actually the basis of the entire game, the idea is to be smart about your use of the weapons, not hesitate to quickly dispatch those if not necessary/in first place for a better weapon the next crate you find.

Depending on the way you play you can as well win a race you've been last place for the whole 3 laps to losing despite being first the entire time.

There's always something going on, a character shouting at another passing-by, lots of explosions and things falling from the sky.

Thankfully the vehicles control great!

The gameplay is smooth and answer precisely right to the way you press the analog stick. You can easily master sharp-turns and quick evasive maneuvers to avoid falling deathtraps.

You can also get a temporary boost by catching several ACME turbos lying around, enough to propel your ACME-powered rockets fast enough.

And if you're lucky to get enough time in the air after a jump you can even control your landing and try staying afloat enough to get ahead.

But be careful not to fall off!

The game was definitely made for fans! There's a lot of fan service from the attention put into the making of the vehicles to the tributes to the Looney Tunes employed through the game.

The game features a fantastic all-star cast of fan-favorite Looney Tunes voice actors. Billy West does Bugs Bunny once more as well as Elmer Fudd. Joe Alaskey reprise his role of Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, Marvin the Martian. And Maurice LaMarche is back as Yosemite Sam.

Besides the main game there also are several challenges to unlock with ACME tokens you get through the game. They range from reverse-races on random previous tracks to no weapon/rockets only races, etc.

Also you can face some rival races against several opponents such as Porky Pig (and unlock him!) to finally face Marvin there in the end!

You can also use your tokens to unlock the bonus gallery.

And finally, there's a fantastic multiplayer mode that will no doubt fill a fine Dreamcast evening, up to 4 players.

Overall, it's a fantastic game!

Probably the best Looney Tunes looking game to date, and it pretty much holds true to this day!

Fun, colorful and capturing perfectly the Looney Tunes spirit and atmosphere.

Space Race was later re-released on the PS2 in 2002. With some minor differences here and there, such as: new menus, some missing background elements, new music tracks, better framerate in the multiplayer, missing ACME events but a new mode tournament instead and a new stage.

In the end, it still is a fantastic game and a must have for any fan of the franchise or good kart racing games!
I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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